Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Value of an English Major: A Follow-Up

One Frugal Girl, an English major herself, kindly linked me to this article on, in which hiring managers address the job prospects of liberal-arts majors.

English majors are, I think, appealing to employers for the same reason that we're appealing to law schools, business schools, and med schools: your typical English major is articulate, communicative, a good writer and a close reader--these characteristics are conducive to being a good lawyer, making a good pitch, or having a good bedside manner, but are also crucial office skills.

Frankly, I think the reason you see low "average salaries" listed for English majors is that many of the same people who want to be English majors want to take on low-paying careers because they love the work: teaching, say, or work in not-for-profit. An English degree without subsequent training can prepare you beautifully for a career in advertising, say, but often the people who are really dedicated to pursuing that fat Madison Avenue paycheck will opt for Communications as a major because they think they'll learn more directly applicable job skills. Basically, I think an English major can earn as much as a Communications major easily--it's a matter of if he wants to, and whether the people who strive for high salaries choose to be English majors or Communications majors.

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